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Psychological thriller set in CORNWALL

5th December 2023

Don’t Look Away by Rachel Abbott, pscyhological thriller set in Cornwall.

Psychological thriller set in CORNWALL

Don’t Look Away by Rachel Abbott is the third in a series of psychological thrillers featuring Stephanie King, though it can be read as a standalone book. The novel starts with the startling discovery of a body in a cave in Cornwall. Two young boys find it when one of them falls from a cliff into the sea. The discovery triggers a police investigation, led by DS Stephanie King, who must identify the body and find out how the person died.

Nancy Holland has created a quiet but contented life for herself in London. Unexpectedly, she inherits a Cornish house from her great aunt Helen, who she barely knew. She had last visited the cottage eleven years earlier as a teenager on a trip that was intended to bring her family together after the death of her mother. Further tragedies followed. Fifteen-year-old Lola, her sister, disappeared during the holiday after telling friends she was leaving to go to London. A police investigation failed to find any trace of her. Weeks later, the sisters’ father died in a car accident. Nancy carries a strong feeling of responsibility for all the tragedies in her young life.

When Nancy returns to Cornwall, her intention is to sell the cottage. It holds too many unhappy memories for her to stay. Her arrival doesn’t go unnoticed, however. Due to the tragedy and chaos she has experienced, Nancy has become a distrustful young woman. Certain goings on begin to raise her suspicions that all is not as it seems, and she might even be in danger.

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DS Stephanie King and her on-off life partner, DCI Angus Brodie, become embroiled in the hunt for Lola Holland when the case is reopened when new evidence surfaces. The couple have personal problems of their own, but they put them aside to concentrate on solving the two cases.

The prologue of Don’t Look Away is deeply creepy and disturbing and instantly I wanted to read on. The early chapters are interesting but about halfway through the book becomes more intense, darker and more involving. Certain aspects of the plot seem guessable, but I wasn’t always right and there were still surprises along the way. Initially I found the storyline rather depressing – poor Nancy has had so much to put up with in her life and she definitely didn’t deserve the kind of complications that come her way. She is a likeable character, and I was keen to follow the story to its climax. The characters aren’t all as believable, and the dialogue grated a bit in places.

The novel’s location is a small village on the outskirts of a larger Cornish town. The author describes the homeliness of the cottage, and its setting near the coastal path and a short distance from the centre. I don’t feel that the book is particularly strong on location but the author builds a believable little world where the story unfolds.

Without reading the earlier books, it’s hard to know whether fans of Stephanie King would be satisfied with her part in this book. Her personal storyline doesn’t progress very much and in her professional role she is dominated by her boss, who is also her partner, Gus. That said, having read Don’t Look Away, I would certainly be tempted to read other books by this author.

Sue for the TripFiction Team

Catch our reviewer Sue on Twitter @SueKelsoRyan and on IG @SueKelosRyan

Catch the author on Twitter @RachelAbbott 

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